W. Germans Tighten Export Controls, Plan Penalties : Bonn Orders Firms to Halt Deals With Libya

From Reuters

The Bonn government, troubled by U.S. allegations that West German companies helped Moammar Kadafi build a chemical weapons plant, said Tuesday that it had ordered several firms to end current deals with Libya.

The West German Cabinet also agreed to tighten controls of exports to sensitive areas and planned heavy fines and prison sentences of up to five years for businessmen violating export laws.

Bonn also said it would ban West Germans altogether from participating in the making of chemical or nuclear weapons.

The Bonn government has repeatedly said that it has no knowledge of West German help to build the controversial plant at Rabta, near Tripoli, and that information provided by the United States was insufficient.


But in Mainz, a West German businessman said Tuesday that he had shipped 200 windows to the chemical plant in Libya--which Washington says will be used to make chemical weapons but which Libya says will manufacture only pharmaceuticals.

Josef Sartorius, head of a metals firm based near Frankfurt, told the West German television station ZDF that he had carried out the deal on behalf of a company run by an Iraqi, Ihsan Barbouti, through his office in Frankfurt.

Ihsan Barbouti International (IBI) was one of four firms whose names, West German government sources said Monday, were given to Chancellor Helmut Kohl by Secretary of State George P. Shultz during a meeting in Washington last November.

Barbouti has declined to comment to the press.

A senior Bonn official said a probe into Imhausen-Chemie--the first West German company to be named publicly as a subject of U.S. scrutiny--had uncovered plans by other firms for sales to the Libyan plant. Imhausen-Chemie was cleared in the probe.

Bonn has complained that Washington has not produced conclusive evidence to back up its charges. West German intelligence experts and government officials are traveling to Washington today for meetings with U.S. officials.